Alison Arngrim played TV’s original mean girl as Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie. That has for better or worse, followed her through the years.
Nellie was the ultimate bully. And Little House had a lot of fans. That meant that people felt really connected to the characters. So, when Nellie was mean to Laura Ingalls, they got rather upset. The only issue with that is that it has followed her throughout her career.
In 2010, Arngrim talked to Smashing Interviews about fans reacting harshly to her in public.
“Well, I got hit by a soda can in the Santa Monica Christmas parade,” she said when asked about the worst thing a fan has done. “That was nice. Of course, there were the girls who knocked me to the pavement. I talk about that in the book. People still have it in their heads that I’m Nellie Oleson. It’s not just the kids, it’s the grownups also.”
The Little House on the Prairie star talked about being at a party at Melissa Gilbert’s house. During the event, a woman walked up and talked to the two stars. “‘It’s so nice to see you two getting along finally,’” Arngrim recalls the woman saying. “Melissa and I thought, ‘What is she talking about?’ The woman said, ‘Well, you made up.’ Then Melissa said, ‘Oh no, you mean on the show!’ This woman had to have been 40 years old and she couldn’t figure out why I was at a party at Melissa’s house.”
It seems that folks aren’t able to discern fiction from reality.
‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Arngrim On Fans Mistaking Fiction for Real Life
Now, most people don’t need to be reminded, but television isn’t real life. Unfortunately for Arngrim, Little House on the Prairie fans don’t always understand that. In the same interview, she touched on that topic a bit further.
“It’s like when people watch soap operas and wind up screaming at people in the supermarket for cheating on their wives or something,” she said. “I have to admit, it does make me wonder. I mean, ‘How good a performance was that?’ There is Melissa Sue talking about all of the acting involved. Well, people say this person or that person should be nominated for an Emmy. On the other hand, I wasn’t nominated, but everybody thinks I’m really her. What does that mean? What category is that where they truly believe it is you?”
Arngrim has a good argument on her hands. Just how good was she as Nellie Oleson? And should she get more credit? Little House on the Prairie is an American classic. So, it is likely that people will keep mistaking the actress herself for her onscreen, bully personality.